With the Super Bowl coming up in less than a week, the official NFL offseason will soon be upon us. The NFL's offseason calendar can be a bit confusing, given how many dates there are for scouting, signing, tagging, and drafting players, so here's a primer for what's coming up in the new league year.
February 7: Super Bowl 50
February 8: NFL waivers are open. A brief primer on the waiver system can be found here; it's a date to keep in mind, but not one that's likely to impact the league substantially unless Cleveland cuts Johnny Manziel prior to free agency.
February 13 - March 12: The NFL will hold its annual scouting combines, including the primary combine in Indianapolis from February 23-29. In addition, the league will hold an additional five "regional combines," a practice that began in 2011 for players who aren't invited to the main combine, but are still possible draft picks.
February 16: Franchise/transition tag designation window opens. Players must be tagged by 4:00 p.m. ET on March 1. A brief review of tag rules can be found here; at this point, however, there are no dollar amounts for each position set in stone.
March 7-9: Pending free agents are allowed to negotiate contracts with any team. However, unless they are re-signing with their current team, they cannot sign a deal until the league year officially begins.
March 9: The 2016 league year begins at 4:00 p.m. ET. Before this time, teams must:
- Exercise options for the 2016 season
- Submit tenders to restricted and exclusive-rights free agents
- Be compliant with the 2016 salary cap